Our Kind of Traitor: Thriller Falls Short Despite Accomplished Cast & Solid Premise
Damian LewisEwan McGregor...
In 1 Cinema
Embodying pretty much everything a bona fide espionage thriller should, Our Kind of Traitor – adapted from John Le Carre’s novel of the same name – is a solid entry into the author’s long-list of book-to-screen adaptations which include hits such as, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener and A Most Wanted Man. However, while it rides on an interesting premise of money, corruption and lies, there is a sense of implausibility that detracts from an otherwise thought-provoking and visually enticing basis.
The story opens in Marrakesh, Morocco where poetry professor, Perry Makepeace (McGregor,) and his semi-estranged lawyer wife, Gail (Harris), have travelled to in an attempt to rekindle their relationship after Perry’s recent indiscretion with one of his students. One evening at a bar, Perry meets an over-the-top Russian businessman named Dima (Skarsgard) who, after inviting the couple to lavish party, openly admits to having laundered money for the Russian mob.
He asks Perry for help in delivering an USB stick containing all of the vital information that the British intelligence will need to capture his boss who goes by the name of Prince (Dobrygin) in exchange for a safe passage into asylum for him and his family. Reaching out to an MI6 agent, Hector (Lewis), Perry delivers on his promise, only to find himself and Gail dragged into a dangerous game of cat and mouse which soon sends the naïve couple on an espionage escapade around the world.
Adapted to the screen by Iranian writer Hossein Amini – see Drive, 47 Ronin – Our Kind of Traitor is told entirely through the eyes of someone who is not a skilled professional but an everyday man who knows very little about the dangerous world he finds himself in, ultimately, making it easier for the viewers to identify with the leads. Filling the story with a great deal of suspense, tension and overall atmosphere, director Susanna White shows a level of confidence behind the lens, packing the screen with an unusual touch of class – very little espionage movie clichés make their way into the story – whilst the action sequences are pleasantly engaging.
The movie’s slight drawback, however, comes in the form of a series of far-fetched situations that the characters find themselves facing and a lack of chemistry between McGregor and Harris, offering very little conviction in their personal connection and overall predicament. The committed performance from Skarsgard – as the tattooed Russian mobster who will do anything to keep his family from harm – however, is what manages to save the film from completely failing, with the talented actor exuding a boisterous presence and charisma that is hard to deny.